Tag Archive: Rolling Stone SA


Rolling Stone is iconic for its covers. As a musician or band gracing the cover of Rolling Stone would probably signify the ultimate success in their music career. The general perception is that appearing on the cover of Rolling Stone is your one way ticket to the Hall of Fame in the music world, it means you’re a brilliant musician and probably destined for greater things. So with the recent addition of Rolling Stone South Africa to the franchise, one cannot help but wonder whether the magazine will live up to this perception and advocate the parent magazine, yet still be credited as an independent magazine with an opinion of its own or whether it will just jump the on the band wagon (excuse the pun) instead of making its own claim to fame independently and become “just another Rolling Stone publication”.

Miles Keylock, ex-English language, literature and drama lecturer at the University of Cape Town turned full time music journalist and more recently editor of Rolling Stone SA smashes all doubt that the magazine is just a spin-off hoping to feed off the success of the Rolling Stone brand. Miles says that Rolling Stone SA aims to be the voice of South African pop culture by telling the “untold stories” of our local musicians. When asked about how the magazine goes about choosing who will feature on the cover Miles challenged the general perception that one has to be a musical genius to land a cover by stating that Rolling Stone doesn’t necessarily look for the most amazing artists.

“We’re interested in artists who have something to say. Just because you’re a good musician doesn’t mean you have a story to tell […] You’ve got to have attitude […] It’s about navigating where we live in. SA is full of contradictions and paradoxes […] The stories centre on answering and trying to figure out how to live in this strange world.”

While Rolling Stone is indeed a magazine that focuses on music, we need to realise that South Africa is drenched in rich culture and therefore our art, in this particular case music, is a representation of that culture. This is something that Rolling Stone SA stresses with each story and each cover.

However, this idea of the right “attitude” and finding ones way in this “strange world” we call home sparks a little bit of hope for all the artist struggling to “make it” in the music scene. Knowing that it is indeed possible for an indie band from the southern suburbs of Cape Town to one day claim a Rolling Stone cover says a lot for the way in which the industry is growing. Heck, South Africa landing its own Rolling Stone alone proves that internationally our music industry is being recognised and acknowledged, that said if they pull it off well.

While Rolling Stone intends to give local music a platform through which their stories can be told we cannot ignore the fact that it is a business and that they actually have to meet a sales quota and all those other boring things that come with running a magazine that has such a great legacy. Miles mentions some of the battles the magazine has to face when it comes to choosing who goes on the cover or which stories will be published. Investors naturally have their investments best interests in mind and tend to try and influence the magazine’s choices in a way that will benefit that said investment. There is often the situation when they have to choose between a “safe” cover like the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, that could possibly sell more easily than a riskier cover featuring an unknown local artist like Spoek Mathambo (May) with an interesting story. However, Rolling Stone has thus far remained true to the “underdogs”  and hav dedicated six of the seven covers to local artists and pointing us in the direction of talent that is right under our noses.

On that note, not only does Miles seem to be a professed supporter of local music but also seems to back the young journalist. When asked what made a piece worth publishing he simply said that it was passion and heart. He went on to saying that lack of passion would prove to be a problem if one wanted to be a sucessful writer. These wise words reverberated throughout the room filled with second year media students who all had one thing in common, they were all interested in entertainment journalism and passion and heart was something they all claimed to have.

Rolling Stone SA’s ethos represents an overwhelming support to all that is African culture and all those artists who were never given the opportunity to tell South Africa and the world their stories. Thus far Rolling Stone has proved that it can carry on the legacy of its father publication yet at the same time stay loyal to South Africa’s roots.

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Rolling Stone has come to South Africa, and hey presto, we now have our own cool music magazine to represent our own cool music scene. But will it? I mean, come on, this is South Africa; a land that is a boiling culture cauldron, bubbling away, with all the numerous and diverse cultures swirling together as a big pot of tasty soup.

Rolling Stone is such a ‘cool’ magazine. It just can’t stop oozing sex appeal and glamour as well as being so full of the hard-core, honest rock n’ roll that the international reader loves. This magazine is drenched in legacy to the point that it’s practically running of the sides.  And now it has come to South Africa, it is sitting at the airport waiting to be picked up, and here is the driver; Miles Keylock.

Keylock seems to be the best man for the job, his suave ‘come at me attitude’ and concrete portfolio make him the person to marry South Africa and the Rolling Stone brand, making a match seemingly made in music magazine heaven. All eyes are on Keylock, we want something just as sexy and rock n’ roll as the original Rolling Stone, but with all the tenacity that South Africa has to offer. The only thing is South Africa has a whole lot more to represent than just tenacity.

Can Rolling Stone South Africa really keep each vegetable, each piece of meat and each salt grain in the tasty soup happy and represented? Or are we just going to have a magazine which ignores the diversity part, instead edging to stay politically correct, or economically afloat?

No one can answer this question. It’s not easy, considering how difficult South Africa is to represent culturally, since, as I said before, we are tasty in our diversity. With such a wide range of people, from varying backgrounds with different stories, loves and interests, people who listen to fundamentally different music, and then having to represent all of that, I must say, no one can really envy Keylock’s job.

He has to manoeuvre the difficult mine field that is political South Africa, driving his magazine through all of the South African social and political tensions, without falling to a flat tire. It is not as if the American brand of Rolling Stone doesn’t have this problem, but it is a whole lot different they didn’t have something to look up to, or the diversity of this country to represent.

Sitting down with Keylock, you could feel the weight of expectancy on him, and physically see it. We stared at the man who would either be the saviour of our expectations, or who would steer Rolling Stone into obscurity, and we all knew what everyone wanted to ask; what are we to expect Miles?

we got this,

‘sometimes I get these guys saying ‘please put a white person on the cover’. No, I’m just kidding. But it feels like it really can get like that… we need to just understand that it is about the integrity of the music – that rock n’ roll spirit’

We are so easily lampooned into worrying whether the magazine would represent South Africa or not, that we forgot that it is not here to do that – it is here to represent South African music. Whatever this means in terms of demographics or political/economic interests, Rolling Stone is a music magazine and it will follow the integrity of music, and the integrity of writing about music.

Rolling Stone SA will represent the icons, the new interesting sounds that are coming out of South Africa and communicate that to its readers. Yes, as a magazine and business venture it must keep afloat and we know about the political tensions, we know about the economic hardships and social injustices of our everyday life, but we need to allow Rolling Stone the place to just show music – all music. Music that is free of politics, money or society. After all Rolling Stone is about the spirit of Rock n’ Roll, which Keylock through Lester Banks thankfully reminded us off,

“Rock ‘n’ roll is an attitude, it’s not a musical form of a strict sort. It’s a way of doing things, of approaching things. Writing can be rock ‘n’ roll, or a movie can be rock ‘n’ roll. It’s a way of living your life

I don’t know if Rolling Stone SA will be successful, and I don’t know if Rolling Stone SA will be able to hear all the music. But I do know that as a music magazine, Rolling Stone South Africa will represent the music made here, not the politics. And after hearing Keylock reassure me, I can rest easy knowing that he is stirring the pot, with a big wooden spoon.